Our MPs ‘doing their job’ … photo taken pre-Covid
Yesterday we had the first PMQs after the summer recess of the HoC. Yes, they’ve been back since the 1st of September, not that we’ve missed them. It was the same old ‘show’, with MPs not being back at work but hiding in their nice houses, participating via Zoom or whatever they use.
It’s no wonder that the PM’s campaign to get people back into their offices is stalling, as ‘Our MSM’ inform us gleefully’. Why should people brave the commute and their offices when our elected representatives cannot be bothered to show up? Why would people, scared out of their minds by the constant fear and hysteria campaign, feel brave to face that ‘virus-laden atmosphere’, even with masks, when MPs and Whitehall keep away from their offices? On full salaries, of course – with the MPs having been given £10,000 to set up their ‘video HoC’ at the start of the Lockdown? We remember, even as they hope we’ve already forgotten.
I managed one video clip of PMQs and that was quite sufficient, thank you very much. It was patently clear that this was a non-event, regardless of Johnson’s hair (I thought hairdressers and barbers were allowed to work for weeks now?) and Starmer’s lugubrious mien (his face looked puffy and he seems to have put on weight)
I can say this with confidence because, exempting the two usual suspects, the ‘parliamentary sketch writers’ in the DT and The Times – their stuff comes under ‘they would write that! – nothing of substance was said, else there would have been headlines and reports in ‘Our MSM’. Instead, we’re given ‘Dishi Rishi’ – not because of what he said but because of what someone with a telephoto lens captured on his papers. That was splashed all over yesterday afternoon’s editions, and the Nation, having read that he won’t tax us into oblivion, is supposed to switch off their attention.
However! There are two aspects to this “event’ which deserve a closer look. The first is that, as expected, Sunak is now in the firing line, after Hancock and Williamson. It’s Sunak’s turn now, and the ‘fine hand’ of mandarins has been revealed – inadvertently, but nevertheless. The DT, also inadvertently, drops the bombshell – read carefully:
“Tory unrest over the Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was compounded over the weekend when the Telegraph reported that Treasury insiders are pushing for “the largest tax rises in a generation” to respond to the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Little wonder, then, that some suspected Mr Sunak’s rather careless handling of his private jottings in front of a phalanx of photographers outside No 10, may not have been entirely accidental. […] A Treasury source declined to comment on whether the leak was deliberate or accidental.” (paywalled link)
‘Some’ suspected? Or rather, MSM hacks think so … but Treasury mandarins saying neither aye or nay – oh dear! As that ‘Tax Horror’ was leaked on the Bank Holiday weekend, I wrote that this looked like mandarins trying to influence public opinion by selective leaking, hoping to force No 10’s hand – and there it is, acknowledged by the DT: ‘Treasury insiders’ were pushing for that tax raid, not the Chancellor.
Forget about the manufactured carelessness of getting that ‘no tax raises’ into the papers. There’s a speculative opinion piece in the DT that this ‘rumour mill’ about what Sunak is or isn’t going to do has to be fuelled by No 10 – because mandarins would never do such a thing themselves, never! The various anonymous ‘senior government figures’ who were quoted in the Bank Holiday issues of ‘Our MSM’ must have done so because the PM must have forced them to:
“Where are these rumours coming from, and why? It does not take the mind of a conspiracy theorist to imagine that the prime minister, or those around him, are alarmed at Mr Sunak’s new popularity, and have decided to take the youngster down a peg or two. […] I do think, though, that the need to fire shots across the chancellor’s bow is indicative of insecurity in Mr Johnson’s court.” (paywalled link)
I myself do think that the author of that piece, a Mr Eliot Wilson, former clerk of the HoC, is trying too hard to hide the fine hands of Whitehalls ring pullers. No 10 isn’t the Kremlin of old – but we plebs out here can read and hear as well as all those Westminster Bubble dwellers. We draw a different conclusion. I’ll come to that below.
The other aspect of this sorrow spectacle is that ‘Our MSM’ and those who read them seem to believe that Johnson will surely go. Thus a certain MP is jockeying for position as his successor, Post-Covid. It’s Jeremy Hunt who not only believes his Covid hands are clean but who gives a misguided and unappetising display of cowardice and low cunning, saying that he’s glad he ‘dodged the bullet’ by failing in his run for the Tory Party Leadership last year, as reported in the DT (paywalled link).
Hunt is trying to make himself look like ‘PM’-material because he’s a ‘former Foreign Secretary’. That he was also a former Dept of Health Secretary under whose ‘leadership’ that department and its quangos drifted into the state it’s in, incapable of dealing with the Covid epidemic, is best swept under the carpet, by him and by ‘Our MSM’. Hunt doesn’t even notice how unsavoury and indeed disloyal he looks when he reportedly said:
“It’s been a very tough year for anyone who was Prime Minister, there’s absolutely no question about it. I would have loved to have done the job but I recognise that Boris Johnson did something very important which is he got an 80 seat majority for the Conservatives.” (paywalled link)
That warm nest – that majority – created by Johnson is just right to settle in and take advantage of! Another wannabe-contender is Hancock who seems to think that being in the headlines is a very good thing, regardless of the failed, innumerable pie-in-the-sky, jam-tomorrow announcements he splashed into the MSM. Apparently he believes that nobody will ask if those initiatives are actually worth the paper they’re written on.
The latest of Hancock’s ‘jam tomorrow’ is that weekly ‘routine tests’ giving results quickly will be rolled out for trial across the nation – next year apparently – so that everybody can feel safe and go back to work. One is a ‘spit test’ which has been trialled:
“In June, pilots of weekly saliva testing began on 10,000 GP staff in Southampton and while results have not yet been published, officials said that they had been positive enough to move on to a second phase. It is understood that the accuracy compared favourably with standard tests, although hopes that regular testing would reduce infection rates were hampered by Southampton having so few cases of coronavirus.” (link, paywalled)
Yes – ‘we’ must test even in the absence of infection rates! Will we made to spit before we’re allowed out, after a ten-minute wait? I would like to know if those spit-tested GP staff are still sitting behind barbed wire in their surgeries or if they’re actually doing what we pay them to do and treat patients, given that, as they acknowledge, there were so few CV-19 cases. Never mind – it was good to see Hancock dancing yet again on the strings pulled by his mandarins.
There’s however one Cabinet minister who has been conspicuous by his absence in ‘Our MSM’. It’s not Raab, the Foreign Secretary who was briefly pushed into the limelight by his mandarins – there was no statement by himself about the alleged Treasury money grab. I’m talking about Mr Gove. As Minister without Portfolio one of his responsibilities is getting us ready for a No Deal Brexit. His civil serpents are working their socks off, attested by the deluge of government statements preparing for that event. His as well as Lord Frost’s workers are not leaking anything unless it’s ‘official’.
And finally, to round this up, here’s the latest Barnier “speech” which shows his frustration as he realises that he and Brussels aren’t getting their way. Barnier blames London for the ‘deadlock’ but still cherishes the thought that this is just posturing by Frost and the government:
“He dismissed Downing Street threats to walk away without a Brexit deal and mocked suggestions that Britain would shrug off a no-deal outcome at the end of the transition period this year. “Sometimes I hear some in the UK speaking of a no-deal,” he told the Irish Institute of International and European Affairs .[…] “But, frankly speaking, there is no reason to underestimate the consequences for many people. There will be a huge difference.” (link, paywalled)
‘Tis the latest Brussels fashion: whistling threats in the dark … and yes, cher Michel, there will be consequences!
In conclusion, today’s little excursion into the jungle that is the Westminster Bubble shows that we’re not governed by those whom we have duly elected. These are just puppets whose strings are pulled by the mandarins who are now fighting for their share of our taxes. They hope that we won’t notice – but thankfully (there’s always a silver lining!) the current crop of editors, writers and correspondents in ‘Our MSM’ are apparently too inept to hide the strings which those mandarins pull.
Should you wonder why the leader of the opposition looks more and more like someone who has nothing to say while speaking – it’s because he hasn’t yet got his own Whitehall mandarin whisperers and string-pullers. Do they know something we don’t – that the train for a Labour Leader in No 10 has already left the station?